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Alex Yacoubian '16 Receives William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship to Study Abroad

Alex Yacoubian ’16, a Washington and Lee University politics and French double major from Metairie, Louisiana, received a prestigious William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship to attend the American University in Dubai (AUD) during the winter term of 2015.

This is the second consecutive year that a W&L student has received a scholarship from the Clinton Presidential Foundation, which has partnered with AUD to provide funding for up to 10 students per semester. Yacoubian’s grant fully covers his tuition, and he will earn a certificate in Middle Eastern studies from AUD.

Yacoubian, a Dean’s List student who has played on the football team and is a WLUR radio host, said he’s always wanted to study in the Middle East. “This dream began when I was a child, listening to my Lebanese grandmother’s enthralling stories of growing up in Beirut. I enjoyed listening to her accounts of a world that seemed so different from my own.” His grandfather’s tales of graduating first in his class at the American University of Beirut’s Medical School and moving to the U.S. to practice medicine also influenced Yacoubian’s decision to pursue the Clinton Presidential Foundation scholarship. “I wanted to reconnect with my roots,” he said. “It’s exciting that I’ll be studying at the same institution as my grandfather, albeit in Dubai.”

For Yacoubian, the scholarship is a perfect match. He has not yet traveled outside the U.S., and one of the main goals of the Clinton scholarship is to provide American students based in the U.S. with the opportunity to expand their educational and cultural horizons by studying in the Arab world.

Mark Rush, the Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law who helped Yacoubian with the application process, said, “Alex’s interest in the Middle East springs from many personal and academic interests, and Dubai is an ideal place for him to study. He will be a great ambassador for Washington and Lee.”

On his return, Yacoubian plans to “apply my newly gained knowledge and understanding of Middle Eastern politics and the Islamic culture to start the school’s first Middle Eastern club. Despite the global importance of the Middle East, there is presently no ample opportunity for W&L students to share their collective knowledge of this part of the world or to discuss this vital region’s pressing issues and concerns.” He also hopes to start an Arabic language program, which he says is “essential for any liberal arts college aspiring to be globally connected. I believe global interdependence and peace become more attainable with a better understanding of another’s culture and language.”